Rationale: Hospitalizations for severe sepsis are common, and a growing number of patients survive to hospital discharge. Nonetheless, little is known about survivors' post-discharge healthcare use.
Objectives: To measure inpatient healthcare use of severe sepsis survivors compared with patients' own presepsis resource use and the resource use of survivors of otherwise similar nonsepsis hospitalizations.
Methods: This is an observational cohort study of survivors of severe sepsis and nonsepsis hospitalizations identified from participants in the Health and Retirement Study with linked Medicare claims, 1998-2005. We matched severe sepsis and nonsepsis hospitalizations by demographics, comorbidity burden, premorbid disability, hospitalization length, and intensive care use.
Measurements and main results: Using Medicare claims, we measured patients' use of inpatient facilities (hospitals, long-term acute care hospitals, and skilled nursing facilities) in the 2 years surrounding hospitalization. Severe sepsis survivors spent more days (median, 16 [interquartile range, 3-45] vs. 7 [0-29]; P < 0.001) and a higher proportion of days alive (median, 9.6% [interquartile range, 1.4-33.8%] vs. 1.9% [0.0-7.9%]; P < 0.001) admitted to facilities in the year after hospitalization, compared with the year prior. The increase in facility-days was similar for nonsepsis hospitalizations. However, the severe sepsis cohort experienced greater post-discharge mortality (44.2% [95% confidence interval, 41.3-47.2%] vs. 31.4% [95% confidence interval, 28.6-34.2%] at 1 year), a steeper decline in days spent at home (difference-in-differences, -38.6 d [95% confidence interval, -50.9 to 26.3]; P < 0.001), and a greater increase in the proportion of days alive spent in a facility (difference-in-differences, 5.4% [95% confidence interval, 2.8-8.1%]; P < 0.001).
Conclusions: Healthcare use is markedly elevated after severe sepsis, and post-discharge management may be an opportunity to reduce resource use.
Keywords: healthcare facilities; hospitalization; patient outcomes assessment; patient readmission; skilled nursing facility.